On July 31st Citizens Of Culture will host No Pressure No Shame, a relationship social experiment that establishes a model environment where confidence can flourish with transparent communication. We will combine technology, human sciences, and experience design to cultivate a space where new relationships are formed and existing ones are strengthened. These conditions exists without gender designation and seem to reflect core components of healthy relationships. Designed to reflect the current state of dating culture in Los Angeles, below are some notes that form the basis for our event.
Of all the wondrous powers of the internet, data storage, live video feeds, its power to connect us seems to be the most exciting. We have been chatting, checking, and now swiping since the very inception of the web. To be a global communication technology is after all what the internet was made for. We’ve employed many of this to finding love, romance, and in some cases sex. Whether going back far enough to remember Match.com launched in 1995 or the more recent innovations of mobile dating, there is always something lacking in web communication and do to that we need to augment it with real live accomplishment of these two actions.
1.SHOW UP CONFIDENTLY
Show Up Confidently = Come As You Are + Know What You Want
First problem we often have is a lack of knowing what we want to communicate. Confidence is a paramount feature of relationships so when we are not clear about our own desires and expectations it makes being confident near impossible. Safety,compatibility, even attraction all stem from this confidence because it is not just an assurance in who you are but also in who you want to be with.
More problems come when we inhibit confidence in knowing what we want. By being fooled a number of times, we lose some of that assuredness in what we want. “I want…” becomes “I think I want…” and a lack of conviction in any statement decreases trust in that statement, communication begins to break down from there. We need transparency in the relationships to have clarity of desire or we begin to feel foolish or shameful for wanting what we do.
In absence of strong desire innate we can fall prey to the desires of others. Social or individual pressures replace our quest for fulfillment with a need to resolve stress. Some times we have sex earlier than we want because we our mate wants or pressures us to, other times we stay in relationships because we don’t want to hurt feelings or feel trapped.
All this occurs in society without the aid of technology but is compounded by the reductive nature of text only communication, it’s even worse when not in real time. Delays in responses give our imaginations time to attribute meaning that may or may not be valid.
Communicate Clearly = Be Sincere + Be Consistent
We know that texting is a lower evolutionary form of communication because we loose the nuances of vocal intonation and inflection. It is just so much faster it serves our fast paced digital lives. The average reader can read 150 words per minute and type about 25-50 to transfer verbal information that quickly it would sound like a sped up tape recording. This makes steps one and two more difficult.
Computers are great at sending concise packaged messages as bits of data but that is not how humans share information. We are messy communicators at best with all of our start-stopping, hesitation, and contradictions. This is why we need the added color of vocal melody to convey emotions where our eloquence fails. This is especially troubling when looking to build successful romantic relationships. Communication is unequivocally paramount in relationship but with online dating we’ve taken something we already weren’t great at and made it even less effective while making it more expedient. The internet has just helped us go faster in the wrong direction, and offers little reassurance when we are going in the right one.
So how do we fix the problem of having deep colorful communication that allows confidence to flourish, all while taking advantage the speed and access the Internet affords? It requires a communication cocktail, the strength of the Internet is that it allows us to browse innumerable prospects quickly but let’s us down when it comes to “kicking the tires” or giving us a true appraisal of the people we’ve matched with online. So we have to add a layer of depth to add increase the potential for connection. Hopping on the phone, or Skype is a good way to add this layer. The voice adds this layer and we must be okay with it ending here if things don’t feel right. Here we find respect, kindness, chivalry, acts of service and consent.
We keep adding layers to the level of engagement, checking the messages we receive in the textual world, against the ones we receive in verbal, and finally verifying those messages through behaviors we observe in actions, and body language and chemistry.Consistency through out these levels is key, and if we fluidly monitor our interactions we end up with a much more comprehensive view of our connection.To put it shortly; texting leads to, talking leads to touching, leads to kissing, leads to sex.
Digital courtship is about progressing from one stage to the next in succession, while remaining constantly aware of our thoughts and feelings along the way.
Clarity of expectation is important along the way so that we remain focused when it feels like that pressure is creeping up on us to continue down a road we are unsure of. It is a matter of discerning when to heed caution or push through fear. Fun, (yes FUN) is such an important aspect along the way because it is the quickest route to establish comfort and transparency. It is why so many people recognize humor as attractive and evident in long lasting relationships. What we find funny is a core component of who we are and a stable indicator of our personality with some depth.
Stability is crucial to communication as well because the feedback we give to behaviors and stimuli helps form the basis of the relationships we’re in. Safety grows here, from it a foundation can be built. Once a solid footing of has been established our deviations and risks are less worrisome. Adventure alone, without this foundation can be read as insecurity but with open channels of communication and/ or trust in the relationship those same risks can be exhilarating even if the risk is an illusion or reduced.
Since we all have our own personal tolerances we must maintain and communicate them until we’ve established boundaries and feelings of safety. Exploration without communication is reckless, it can be no less exhilarating but the consequences of these risks are higher. Again, technology is great at providing opportunities for risky behavior, in its pseudo anonymity we can find courage to act on our impulses.
Confidence and communication allows us to toss out our lists and preconceived notions, but still rely on information and past experience because we are continuously checking in with ourselves and with our potential partners. While online provides the connection it is only the initial starting place, healthy relationships must be built on more. As the bonds between us becomes more complex the foundation must be more solid to support the complexity.
No Pressure, No Shame aims to provide an environment where this foundation can be formed, and environment devoid of pressure, and shame where you can come exactly as you are and begin any interactions with clear communication.
We hope to see you there.
Friday July 31 9pm Farmer’s Daughter Hotel